Chapter 33: Hunting
In the evening, Wei Peng gathered the team to discuss and divide them into groups.
The spring hunt was a collective activity, but there were few ferocious beasts at their location, which was the outer ring of Jade West. The creatures in this area belonged to the three lower cultivation realms. This meant they could keep the spoils of the game they personally hunted down.
To a newbie, this was the appetizer before the main course. They would first familiarize themselves with the hunt through the guidance of their senior teammates in order to avoid making mistakes down the line.
Including Teacher Wei Peng, this small team of theirs had eleven people in total, with four being of the Inner Breath Realm. Of the four, Shao Zhengyang was less of an issue considering his sturdy, athletic frame. On the contrary, the other three newbies required more attention relevant to the grouping arrangements.
Since Lu Mingshu and Gao Xiang did not want to be in separate teams, Wei Peng pointed out three people to join them in forming a group. He called someone he was close to and took Le Xiaoyi under his wing. Nobody would want to drag themselves down with a newbie like Le Xiaoyi. In that case, he could only guide her personally. Once they were all grouped up, the remaining three formed their own group.
"Let's move out now and have a head start while the sun is still up." A woman with a round face and a neat ponytail, and who looked to be around twenty-some years old, spoke up.
This woman with a round face was named Yi Jiao. Her name was Jiao, and she had the appearance of a typical Xichuan woman; long legs, a slender waist, and a healthy and beautiful figure.
Besides her, there were two other Harmonization Realm teammates. One was named Zhu Jingliang, who was an older, experienced veteran. The other was named Lin Chen, who appeared to be close with Yi Jiao who was about the same age.
Frankly, a small group like theirs could only be considered an outer ring team. The real core team comprised members that were experienced and strong. Unlike their small group that consisted of either too old or too young members. One could tell at a single glance that Yi Jiao and Lin Chen had only recently entered the Harmonization Realm, while Zhu Jingliang was about to retire.
Zhu Jingliang led the team as the group entered the mountain forest. They walked at a steady pace, keeping their guard up as they surveyed their surroundings.
As Lu Mingshu's footsteps was too loud, Yi Jiao held up a finger to her mouth to gesture for her to keep it down.
In the midst of walking, Zhu Jingliang stopped abruptly to size up a tree root by the side.
"There's a bunch of Silver-Shelled Rats." Zhu Jingliang spoke softly.
Yi Jiao and Lin Chen gave each other a look as they each caught a newbie. Yi Jiao told Lu Mingshu softly, "Follow me and don't make a noise or try to stand out – just play the role of support."
Once Lu Mingshu nodded, she loosened her grip.
When Zhu Jingliang made two hand gestures, Yi Jiao and Lin Chen both nodded. One took Lu Mingshu while the other took Gao Xiang. Then they parted ways.
Yi Jiao was observant as she navigated through the forest. She circled around a large tree, pulled some grass from the foot of the trunk, and proceeded to tie it up into a grass hoop before throwing it into a hole in the tree.
She walked onwards after that, stopping occasionally to throw a grass hoop into another tree hole.
Lu Mingshu had a strong urge to ask just what it was that Yi Jiao was observing. But since she was told to stay silent, she could only refrain from speaking.
They walked in this manner all the way until Yi Jiao and Lu Mingshu reached a small hillside.
Zhu Jingliang was already waiting there by a huge rock, with half a hole exposed under the rock.
Once Yi Jiao came back, she immediately joined him on the lookout without exchanging any words with him.
After a while, a bird's chirping travelled over, and the two immediately made their move.
One moved the huge rock, while the other picked up the grass hoops at each tree and lit them up in flames before throwing them back into the holes ...
Zhu Jingliang finally spoke, "Stand guard here. I'll go help Lin Chen."
Yi Jiao nodded. "Rest assured."
With the ban on noise lifted, Lu Mingshu took the opportunity to ask, "Senior Sister, why did we do that?"
"The Silver-Shelled Rats like to tunnel their way through the earth, causing them to have numerous exits. That's why we have to block up the holes in order to catch them."
"How do you make sure you haven't missed any?"
"Well said." Yi Jiao gave her a thumbs up. "This is why you have to pray for good luck that you won't miss out any!"
Lu Mingshu blinked, somewhat unconvinced. "It relies on luck?"
Seeing her unconvinced expression, Yi Jiao laughed out loud and revealed the actual answer. "Of course not, there are typically nine holes with two being the main entrance and exit for the Silver-Shelled Rats. Old Zhu and Lin Chen each bet on one, so we only have to find seven holes."
"That grass …"
"Oh, this is the type of grass Silver-Shelled Rats hate the most. They won't walk by those holes once this is thrown in." As Yi Jiao spoke, she lit up another bunch of grass hoops and threw them into a hole.
Lu Mingshu understood now. Since the Silver-Shelled Rats hated this grass, they could only escape through the hole guarded by Lin Chen if they wanted to leave the moment the smoke forces its way through into the tunnels.
"Does that mean we won't encounter it?" Lu Mingshu was very disappointed. "Do we just stand guard here and be idle?"
"Isn't it good to be able to stand guard and be idle?" Yi Jiao teased her. "You get an equal share without even having to put in any effort."
"But we won't be able to learn anything this way!"
Yi Jiao laughed. "You are pretty serious! No wonder you are already at the Inner Breath Realm despite being this young." Then she casually answered, "Don't worry, we won't lose out. With how sturdy the tunnels made by the Silver-Shelled Rats are, it isn't rare for other ferocious beasts to also stay in these tunnels …"
Right as she said that, a rustling sound emerged from the hole, followed by a blur of a shadow jumping out.
"Whoosh" —Yi Jiao pulled her sword out of its sheath, leapt up, and struck down.
A ferocious beast fell from midair.
Yi Jiao pouted once she took a look. "What bad luck. it's only in the Body Tempering Realm."
Lu Mingshu hastily ran over. This was only a wild pig that seemed to have just become a demonic beast. It had retained its body fat despite the winter that had just passed.
Too lazy to clean up the wild pig's body, Yi Jiao let Lu Mingshu take over in dragging it over to the side.
"Senior Sister." She continued her previous question. "Aren't there nine holes? Won't the other ferocious beasts leave from the other exits as they aren't afraid of this grass?"
"Stupid." Yi Jiao jokingly flicked her forehead. "How big would the other exits be? They won't be able to leave! Those that are able to leave through the other exits are all small beasts that we have to let go."
"Oh …" That's right, how would we have prey to hunt next year if we even kill the small beasts?
Yi Jiao was immediately alerted upon spotting movement in the hole.
A shadow jumped out abruptly.
With a wave of her sword, Yi Jiao struck the ferocious beast down.
"Oh god, we caught a large one!"
Lu Mingshu heard her nervous yet excited voice.
The two immediately calmed down their nerves once the black shadow was struck down.
Lu Mingshu looked over, laying eyes on a ferocious beast with a strange appearance. It both did and did not resemble something in between a horse and a cow. It had a body of hard armour and a horn growing out of its head.
Yi Jiao fixed her gaze on this ferocious beast while commanding Lu Mingshu, "Don't come up and protect yourself well. This is a White Hoof Rhinoceros at the Harmonization Realm."
Yi Jiao could not protect her, given their encounter with such an unusual beast that was in the Harmonization Realm to boot.
Its rear hooves brushed against the ground. And with a shriek, it rushed towards Yi Jiao.
Lu Mingshu did not try to jump into the fray as told, but she was also not willing to be a mere spectator. Hence, after some thought, she decided to set up some traps in the surroundings.
The damage these traps could do to the ferocious beast was limited due to the simplicity in their make. On the other hand, the goal of the spring hunt was to temper the disciples' skills, which she accomplished through individual action while providing support as requested.
However, it would be dangerous if a second ferocious beast came along while Yi Jiao fought alone. By setting these traps, Lu Mingshu could be considered to be adapting to the situation.
But unexpectedly, a bunch of black shadows flew out of the hole in quick succession right when she had just finished setting up her trap.
"Tsk! What's with this bad luck?!" Yi Jiao cussed. "Blood Scorpions! It's actually a group of Blood Scorpions!"